Heroes

What is the role of climate change in the conflict in Syria?

This comic shows how drought may have been an unhinging factor for Syria in 2011, and what happened over the following year.

What is the role of climate change in the conflict in Syria?


That warning has become a global alert. Since the uprising against Assad in March 2011, over 240,000 people have been killed, 4 million Syrians have fled their country, and over 7 million have been displaced.

The headlines are full of the heartbreaking stories of these refugees — including young children — who have died trying to reach safety in other countries. The story of these refugees is deeply tied to the effects of climate change.

"We are experiencing a surprising uptick in global insecurity ... partially due to our inability to manage climate stress." That's how Columbia University professor Marc Levy (who also does studies for the U.S. government) summed it up.

What's happening in Syria and across Europe is part of a larger story that affects us all.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.